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COVID-19: trust offers new head coverings to meet needs of nurses

Innovation by ward manager prompts London trust to offer healthcare staff new head coverings with extra long ties
Picture of two female medics, one of whom is wearing a hajib

Innovation by ward manager prompts London trust to offer staff new head coverings with extra long ties

A hospital ward managers idea for appropriate hair coverings is the inspiration for a new range of caps and headscarves specifically designed to meet the needs of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff and those of different faiths.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London has commissioned head coverings including hijab headscarves and caps that accommodate long hair and braids, and will offer them to all staff as part of the trusts uniform policy.

Noni Nyathi

The initiative was the brainchild of emergency medical admissions unit ward manager Noni Nyathi, who was keen to cover her hair during the COVID-19 crisis.

Innovation by ward manager prompts London trust to offer staff new head coverings with extra long ties

Picture of two female medics, one of whom is wearing a hajib
Picture: iStock

A hospital ward manager’s idea for appropriate hair coverings is the inspiration for a new range of caps and headscarves specifically designed to meet the needs of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff and those of different faiths.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London has commissioned head coverings including hijab headscarves and caps that accommodate long hair and braids, and will offer them to all staff as part of the trust’s uniform policy.

Picture of ward manager Noni Nyathi, who inspired a new range of caps for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff
Noni Nyathi

The initiative was the brainchild of emergency medical admissions unit ward manager Noni Nyathi, who was keen to cover her hair during the COVID-19 crisis.

Staff were using anything they could find – including plastic aprons and bin bags – to cover their heads

‘Initially it was a personal thing. African-Caribbean hair is of different textures and different curl patterns, from really loose curls to really curly hair, and my hair sits in the last category so is difficult for me to manage,’ she said.

‘We also need to add oils into the hair instead of removing them, so when you wash it every day the process takes a long time and the hair becomes dry and brittle.’

She asked her cousin, a seamstress, to make her some caps that matched her uniform, which sparked demand from colleagues.

Ms Nyathi explained the issue to managers after it emerged that staff were using anything they could find – including plastic aprons and bin bags – to cover their heads.

The trust’s personal protective equipment (PPE) and clinical procurement group ordered caps suitable for different types of hairstyle and masks with extra long ties that can be fastened around head coverings. The trust will also provide other types of clothing to meet staff needs, including hijabs and gowns in different sizes.

‘I couldn’t believe how many people this was affecting without anyone actually saying it out loud’

Ms Nyathi said she was proud to have helped instigate the changes and is overwhelmed by the response. ‘I couldn’t believe how many people this was affecting without anyone actually saying it out loud,’ she said.

The trust’s director of nursing Janice Sigsworth said it was important to respond to the needs of staff ‘especially during the unprecedented situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic’.

She said: ‘I’m pleased that we'll soon be able to offer head covers to all our staff who may need them.’

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